Celebrating Me!

It was my birthday yesterday.  And yes, my family and friends and loved ones showered me with all the love they could muster.  Yes, we celebrated me.  More so I am just so grateful for the outpouring I received.  It was more than I could have hoped for and all that I needed.  Truly a gift.  Each word of wishes and blessings.  All held close to my heart.  I felt celebrated and joyful!

 Birthdays are a very big deal in our family.  So big that we tend to carry on the celebration for a good week or so.  Milking every ounce of fun that we can.  My week began with a special night out with Husband Jared last weekend.  We did some research and found a restaurant we wanted to try in downtown Minneapolis, Zelos.  It did not disappoint.  Great atmosphere, incredible, fresh and local menu to sample and delightful conversation with my man. 

A night out with my man
The birthday week continued with pedicures with a sweet friend and her daughter, and card after card in the mail.  The Things and I have a rule that you can't open presents or cards sent before your actual birthday so they taunted me all week.  It really has not a thing to do with the gift, the mere fact that I was thought of touches me deeply.  So much so that I cried like a baby when I opened each gift.  Sometimes tears are happy and in this case they were. 

On my actual birthday morning Thing 1 rose early and made me breakfast.  Thing 3 decorated our "plate" with a birthday wish and Thing 2 and Thing 4 hugged and wished me a "happy birthday" before the sun even rose.  What a way to start the day!

Bagel sandwich, cutie, orange juice and most important, coffee!

Thing 4 was home sick today so we spent the day snuggling and making a visit to the Minute Clinic.  Not exactly fun but at least we were together.  And upon finding out he did not have strep or anything else contagious he rebounded quite nicely.  Maybe he just needed a day, don't we all?  Husband Jared made it home early and was able to have lunch with us.  And then I impatiently waited for the girl Things to come home from school so we could continue our celebrating.  We had decided to take the Things to dinner at Burger Jones.  A fine establishment serving some of the most creative, messiest burgers.  A bit of a retro throw back.  It was Husband Jared's first visit and he sampled a fried chicken slider with spicy aoli, delish.  All of it was. 

Around the table

I think it might have been the speediest family dinner ever.  There was a seven pound chocolate cake waiting for us at home and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Let's  not forget the pink candles and the dismay when the Things realized there were not enough candles for the years.  They made the digits with the candles.  Um, thank you, I think. 


Making a wish

After blowing out the candles, yes I got all of them, and devouring the chocolaty goodness we settled in together for the remainder of the evening.  What a day, what a night and what a completely awesome family I have.  

Thankful Thursday #83

* Prayer wall at Mother Mary's house in Ephesus

773. hot tea to soothe
774. happy voicemails
775. birthday packages in the mail
776. love day
777. homemade cards from Things
778. song, "By Your Side"
779. raspy reading the "History of Rome"to Thing 1
780. game night planned
781. new community
782. creating art

I Heart Valentines Day

Every year my family sees it coming.  The red hearts scattered about the house, a heart wreath on the door, our garden flag waving, petite hand towels in the powder room.  I love, love.  Really I do.  Is there a better day than when we are able to shower those we hold closest with affection and words of our feelings?  I think not.  Well, maybe there is, but we're not talking about those days today.  Today is for Valentines day and yet another day filled with tradition in our home. 

Husband Jared and I always treat the Things to a special something for this day of love.  This year we began the day with our verse for the week, 1 John 4:7, heart shaped eggs for breakfast, love notes in the lunch boxes and a special meal for dinner.  When the Things returned from their day of learning we decorated heart shaped cookies and they oohed and aahed over what was to be the most decadent of desserts, baked hot chocolate, thank you Wall Street Journal for the recipe.  It was really as easy as pie.  We lit candles, opened presents and enjoyed every last morsel of our shrimp pasta all in anticipation of dessert.

Perhaps though, my favorite part of this day comes after dinner, and no it's not the dessert. When the six of us sit around the table and talk.  I have paper with each of our names at the top and then blank.  Open space to fill with words of love.  Each member of the family writes two things they love about the other five.  No physical attributes allowed.  These love words then are read aloud over dessert and we laugh and cry, ok only I cry, and then I hang them on the wall so that when we need a reminder they are there for us to see.  And don't we all need a reminder of how much we are loved every now and then? 

Heart Shaped Rock

"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls."
Mother Teresa

Quizzing, Masquerades, Footie and Some Covert Ops

What a full weekend we had.  Everyone of the Things had some activity scheduled.  Schedules were arranged, details nailed down and carpool in place.  You know, that kind of a weekend.  Oh, and it was cold.  I just can't seem to leave the weather out of it. 

Friday night Thing 2 had Covert Ops.  A team of youth, junior and senior high students, from our church, along with their zany and courageous pastor head into the city to share a meal with the homeless community.  She has participated once before and was changed forever.  An eye opening experience.  What makes my Mama heart swell with pride is her empathy.  The genuine connection she effortlessly makes with the people.  They have an impact on her that will last.  What an upside down, marvelous way He works. 

Saturday morning was the usual football training, carpool and then preparing for Thing 3's big Bible quizzing event. She had been having study sessions for the last three weeks and was ready to take on questions from her Awana book.  Impressed with her bravery and willingness to step out, we all watched from the audience.  Thing 3 aced the paddle portion of the quizzing.  Wow!  The speed round was next and while nerves overtook her for a bit, she took a deep breath and tried again.  So very proud of this girl.  She received a "High Honors" award personally and then her team placed second overall. 

The family waiting for the action to start

Thing 3 and her ribbons!

I had to check out a bit early from the Awana event to ensure that Thing 1 arrived in a timely fashion to her friend's house for hair and make up.  Her friend's sweet sister and compadre offered to glam up Thing 1 and her girlfriends for the Masquerade.  They were thrilled.  And frankly, so was I, make-up and frill is not in my comfort zone.  The make up room was stocked with snacks, fancy juice drinks more make up, false eye lashes and hair tools that I could not have even dreamed of.  And with that I made a quick exit and waited for the text that it was time for the photo shoot.  Really. 

Because they weren't quite ready for her yet the talented make up artist
staged this photo for me, what a doll!

We celebrated Thing 3's awards, took some group photos of her and ran home to get Things 2, 3 and 4 situated with dinner and their movie set up before Husband Jared and I met Thing 1 and her friends at the Galleria for their photo shoot.  We had the privelege of driving the girls to dinner and the dance.  Here are a few shots from the Galleria.  My oh my.  It is a blessing beyond words to be privy to this friendship.  The girls, all teenagers, are so unique.  Each of their masks and dresses were completely their own.  No pretending, no homoegenous hairstyles, etc.  Take a look for yourself.

 They each decorated their own masks for the ball


And with that we piled in the car, ok maybe they were a bit more classy, and Husband Jared and I proceeded to rock out to some old school Michael Jackson.  You know, to prepare them for the dancing that was about to ensue.  Then after a few eye rolls we changed it to country and they sang for us.  Not really.  We rolled up to the dinner locale only to see the look of dissappointment on their faces.  A classmate had made the reservations and let's just say that the establishment was not up to par with their expectations.  Despite that the girlies managed to enjoy themselves and then we whisked them away to the dance.  Nervous sighs and thank you's were muttered and we watched them enter the art center full of confidence and anticipation for what the night held.  A few short hours later Husband Jared picked up Thing 1 and was met with yawns and all the talking that a fifteen year old could manage after three hours of socializing.  Needless to say it was definitely a night to remember, pardon the pun, for us all.  A milestone of sorts. 
That my friends was our weekend.  Jam packed full of good stuff.  Sunday was church, coffee with friends, football match for Thing 4 and our first small group.  More joy!  We proceeded to watch a snippets of the Grammys together.  The highlight was definitely Jennifer Hudson, mama mia!  That girls voice is just powerful.  Things were tucked in and sweet dreams were had by all, I hope. 

Thankful "Thursday" #82

763. sunshine
764. smiling kiddos at recess
765. work
766. warm soup on a chilly night
767. happy chatter of teenagers
768. Things taking care of me
769.orange juice
770. Tuesday mornings
771. Husband Jared
772. a new niece

Birthday Dinner - Thing 1 Style

We celebrated Thing 1's birthday a day early.  Wednesdays are typically a busy night for our household.  Running to and fro.  Training for football, carpool, youthgroup, Awana, etc.  Dinner is quick and although we try to sit at the table and eat together sometimes it just doesn't happen.  With that being said we planned Thing 1's celebration for the night before her actual birthday.  On the menu: fried chicken, fried onion strings, homemade mac and cheese, it is a vegetable in the South you know, biscuits and a salad for a splash of green.   Don't forget the from scratch strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting.  Yes, it was all as good as it sounds.  I think.  The quiet at the dinner table that night was a sign.  Thing 1 savored every moment.  Southern girl at heart.

 Cooking the onion strings, her favorite job

The Meal
When every last morsel was devoured we moved to presents.  An assortment of cards and presents awaited.  Thing 1 could hardly wait.  She was shaking cards and eyeing the loot days before her birthday.  Man did she score.  Money for shopping, a goodie bag of her favorites from some sweet new friends, jewelry and canvases for some painting projects she's had in mind.  Wow.   A smile from ear to ear covered her face and then I sang happy birthday and the smile dissappeared, or at least it turned into laughter!  Fifteen candles on the cake, or in this case, candles in the shape of 15.  She blew them all out and made a wish.  No, she didn't share that but she did share her cake and icecream, rainbow shebert with us.  Yum. 

Goodie bag of favorites!

Wish and cake time!

A simple, quaint family night.  I hope Thing 1 felt celebrated and honored.  I know for certain she did when her siblings had kitchen clean up and she was able to sit and watch them.   Yet another advantage to being the birthday girl.  Here's to the year ahead and until the next birthday.

Already 15

When I see that number in the title it sends chill bumps up my arms.  Our eldest daughter is 15!  And she is just so very tickled by it.  Everyday reminding the family how many days until her birthday and then saying in jest, "soon Mama I'll be able to drive".  Oh be still my heart. 

Not sure when that happened because just the other day I was sitting with you on my lap and we were reading "Is Your Mama a Llama" and you were asking for "The Lorax" and then we fell asleep in the rocking chair.  I wake up and now you are in high school.  What? 

 Almost 3 years
 2 years old
Always taking care of your siblings, at 4 years old
(You gave Thing 2 that special hair style)

We couldn't be more proud of the young lady that you are becoming.  A sweet heart with an ability to see right through into mine.  You call me out when necessary and challenge me to not only be a better Mama but a better woman.  For all your opinions and lofty ideas you are grounded.  The things that have eternal value matter and we see the fruit of that in the choices you are making. 
Shopping is a  passion.  Given the opportunity and the funds you could go all day, lap Mall of America more than once and still have the energy for more.  On more than one occasion you have given me some much needed fashion advice.  You say what you're thinking and feeling and never hold back.  

October 2011
 July 2011, you staged this photo and told your siblings where to stand
 and me as well, just so I would have the best angle

You love taking pictures and you tend to bring your camera with you wherever we go.  I love that.  When you set out to accomplish a task and really focus, you prove your diligence and intelligence.  Although you don't like math, you have shown us that through your efforts there has been improvement and confidence.  Most recently you have had a soft spot for children with special needs, I pray that the Lord blesses that and uses it in a big way.

Homecoming 2011

Thing 1, I pray God's continue blessings over you on this your fifteenth year.  May you shine for Him bigger and brighter than before.  I hope your dreams become realities, and I pray you know just how very much your Daddy and I love you.  You are an invaluable part of our story and a daughter of THE KING.